Study in USA

  • 5665

    Courses Offered in USA
  • 5%

    International Students
  • USD 30000

    Average Cost Of Study


With a population of more than 327 million, the United States of America is the third most populous country. Although no specific introduction is required for the US, attractions such as Hollywood, the Grand Canyon, the numerous famous American personalities in a vast array of fields, its entrepreneurship spirit, the many contributions of Americans to the world of music, among others, make the US stand out among popular study destinations in the world. 

Ranked 7th in the list of Best Countries in the US News & World Report 2020, the US has earned an overall score of 92.4 based on categories like cultural influence, quality of life, open for business, heritage, adventure, and more. The country also continues to impress in terms of higher education providers with more than 150 US universities having made it to the 2021 edition of the QS world university rankings.

According to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, the 2018-19 academic year recorded an all-time high number of international students for the fourth consecutive year with a total of 1,095,299 overseas students. Of the 1,095,299 international students, 202,014 students hail from India with 90,333 students enrolled in graduate programs and 24,813 in undergraduate programs. Besides, the country also boasts of no less than 84,630 Indian students who have been allowed to stay back after course completion. 

Being a global leader in STEM innovation and literacy, a majority of international students pursue STEM fields (a whopping 51.6% in 2018/19) in the USA. Among a wide range of areas of study, other popular academic fields for overseas students include Math, Computer Science, Business and Management and Social Sciences.

See: Top Courses for International Students to Study in the USA

Covid-19 Response

All individuals should abide by the state and local guidelines and practice good hygiene, which includes using face mask in public, disinfecting items, washing hands, using sanitiser and maintaining a physical distance.

  • All educators, communities and families will be equipped with resources to      continue with their education. This includes testing in higher education institutions, contact tracing, travel guidance, among others. 

  • A number of higher education institutions are preparing to reopen their campus. However, many have decided to open in-person learning in the United States. 

The Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) in the US, in response to the global pandemic, has been divided into four types based on their level of risk: Lowest Risk, Medium Risk, Higher Risk and the Highest Risk. 

The mode of instruction adopted by IHEs would depend on the current state of COVID-19 spread in their community. Most universities, however, are delivering classes through the hybrid learning model.

ISSO strongly recommends having a look at the risk level of the community issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) before returning to the US. 

Regarding travelling from India to the US during the pandemic, the validity of OCI cards of those presently in India will remain and only limited international flights departing from India are available. After submitting an online application, visas and e-visas of Indian students stuck in India will be extended. 

Do You Want to Study in the USA?

Also Read: COVID Vaccination Policy in the US for International Student Travellers

Why Study in the USA

As per the records, the most number of international students are pursuing higher education in the USA than any other country. With over 4,000 universities across the country, the United States is home to some of the top universities in the world. The universities and colleges offer a wide range of degrees and courses in all academic fields, offering a wide range of study options to students. The benefits of studying in the USA are endless. However, some of them are:

Global Academic Standards: One of the biggest advantages of studying in the US is that US education is recognised all over the world. According to QS World Rankings 2021, 151 of the 1,003 top universities are in the United States, making it the country with the highest number of top-ranked universities in the world. Among them, five universities including MIT, Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of Chicago are featured in the top 10 universities of the world.

Most universities offer a wide range of programs in various disciplines such as law, humanities, finance, management, engineering, science, journalism and so on. Classrooms at US universities offer the latest technology and state-of-the-art facilities that ensure an academic environment focused on continuous nourishment of each student.

Groundbreaking Research: The US is at the forefront of scientific and creative innovation which makes studying in the USA all the more popular among international students. Large research institutions in the US offer great exposure opportunities for students to work alongside their professors and apply what they are learning in the classroom to the lab or workshop. Students ending up in the US are exposed to advanced technology and research in the area of study, expanding their horizons and knowledge.

At universities such as MIT, students are expected to join or initiate research for academic credit, leading to published work, patent applications and great start-up companies. Universities across the US have over 100 research labs where students are encouraged to engage in research in the fields of black hole studies, climate change, neuroscience and so on.

Multiculturalism: American culture is a melting pot and studying in the USA can broaden one's mindset. Studying in the US can give students a wide range of opportunities to know and learn about other cultures and exchange ideas with peers from all around the world. The country has always been welcoming towards students belonging to different ethnicities, cultures, nationalities, races and religions. This not only makes a newcomer feel closer to home but also helps them adapt to the American culture easily.

Emphasis on Internships & Career Advancement: Given the flexible education system in the US, all students including those from outside the country are encouraged to work part-time or internships and broaden their career avenues. Upon graduation, international graduates in the US earn approximately ten times higher than those in other job markets. According to a survey published by the Institute of International Education in 2014, roughly 90% of international alumni found a job within the first six months after graduation. In addition, given that the US houses some of the top companies such as Walmart, Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Apple, amongst others, an international student is likely to benefit from the location and opportunities to network with global leaders.

Specialised Support for International Students: Universities in the US are widely popular for the variety of services they offer to support and help overseas students both inside and outside the classroom. They guarantee an effortless transition from their home country to the US through a lot of workshops, orientation programs, dedicated offices to international student services which help with English language skills, visa problems, scholarships or financial aid, accommodation, cultural adjustment, career services, mental health issues and so on.

Flexibility in Declaring a Major: One of the top benefits of studying in the US is the academic flexibility they offer. Students in the country are not required to declare their major until the end of the second year of study. This is very much unlike other countries where students need to declare their major right when they are applying.

Also Read: Top Universities in the US with the 'Happiest Students' 

Education System in the USA

The education system of the USA offers a rich field of choices for international students. The US higher education system can be broadly classified into three categories:

Level I – Bachelor’s degree or Undergraduate: In the USA, a Bachelor’s degree course is regarded as an UnderGraduate (UG) course. Usually, the duration of the UG courses in the USA is four years. The first two years of study comprises a variety of classes in different subjects. The most common subjects that are being taught in the first two years of UG courses are history, arts, literature, science and social sciences. May international students in the US choose a community college to complete the first two years of UG prerequisite courses. These students obtain an AA (Associate of Arts) degree and then transfer to a four-year university or college. Apart from the above mandatory courses in the UG, a ‘major’ is the specific field of study in which your degree is focused. In order to meet the degree requirements of the major course, you must take a certain number of courses in the chosen field. The major has to be chosen by the beginning of your third year of UG course. One of the unique characteristics of the American education system is that you can change the major course multiple times. In simple words, the American education system is very flexible.

Level 2 – Master’s Degree or a Graduate: International students from only a limited number of countries are allowed to pursue Master’s courses in the US. Usually, the duration of the Master’s courses in America is one year or two years. Most of the master’s courses are merely based on classroom teaching, and each student must prepare a long research paper called Master’s thesis or complete a Master’s project. For admission to a gradation program, applicants are required to sit exams such as GRE or GMAT, LSAT for law, and MCAT for medical programs.  

Level 3 – Doctoral Degree: Usually, the duration of PhD in America is three years. However, for international students, a Doctorate degree may take up to five or six years to complete. Students can enter Doctoral degree courses with a Master’s degree. The majority of universities in the US enrol new students during the autumn. Therefore, international students can apply for admission during this season.

Also Read: Countries With the Best Higher Education System in the World 

Types of Higher Education Institutions in the USA

The US higher education institutions are not organised at the central level but accredited at the regional level by independent bodies.

Here are the five types of higher education institutions in the US:

Colleges: Colleges are again divided into three types- community colleges, a college under a university and liberal arts colleges.

Universities: These are institutions offering undergraduate and graduate programs.

Community Colleges: Community colleges do open admissions and are often two-year colleges. Fees charged by community colleges are usually lower than that of private schools.

Liberal Arts Colleges: Colleges focused on the learning of liberal arts are liberal arts colleges in the US. They are usually based on interactive instruction. 

For-Profit Colleges: These are institutions owned by profit and profit organizations.

Also Read: Know All About January 2022 Intake to Study in the USA

Curriculum and Degrees Offered in the USA

Undergraduate Degrees in the USA

Two-year Programs:

There are over 2,000 two-year colleges in the US, also known as junior or community colleges. They are either operated by local districts or a division of the state university. A two-year program route is opted by students in higher education study to obtain an associate or intermediate degree. An associate degree is granted by a community, technical or junior college for a program of study you have completed with concentration in a certain area and broad base in general education. Two-year associate degree programs can be divided into two - Associate of Arts (A.A) or Associate of Science (A.S) - which are designed for students to transfer into a four-year college or university.

Four-Year Programs:

Every year millions of students in the US earn four-year degrees that are offered at over 2,000 colleges and universities. Also known as a “college degree”, an undergraduate degree in the US usually takes four years to complete and includes 120-128 semester credit hours. The four years are called freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years and the curriculum of almost undergraduate programs in the US are based on a liberal arts philosophy. The curriculum includes subjects such as social sciences, history, mathematics, humanities, natural or physical sciences and English composition. Students are asked to choose a specific field of study or major after they have met the core curriculum requirements.

The two types of bachelor’s degrees offered include B.A (Bachelor of Arts) and B.S (Bachelor of Science). However, there are other specialised bachelor’s degrees including Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.), Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs (B.S.P.A), Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), Bachelor of Architecture Degree (B.Arch.) and Bachelor of Design (B.Des.)

Graduate Degrees in the USA

After completion of a four-year Bachelor’s degree, one may continue their learning and receive a graduate education which may lead either to a master’s degree or a doctoral degree. Commonly known as “grad school”, a distinction can be made between graduate schools and professional schools that offer advanced degrees in the fields of business, engineering, law, nursing, medicine or engineering.

  • Graduate Degree: Although different types of master’s degrees are offered in the US, the two basic degrees are Master of Arts (M.A) and Master of Science (M.S) which may last one to three years. In general, a master’s degree requires a student to complete  six to eight advanced courses along with an intensive study project or a thesis. Some graduate programs may also include internships to offer knowledge and experience in the field of study.

  • Doctoral Degree: This may include either an academic PhD, professional edD or Doctor or Education or DBA (Doctor of Business Administration). A doctoral degree in the US prepares students for research scholar or college faculty positions or other such roles. Doctoral coursework usually comprises three to four semesters done in small seminars. Students will then have to convert their original research into a book-length dissertation or thesis.

  • Professional Degree: US universities also offer professional degrees in a specialised area of study. These include degrees such as LL.M, M.B.A, M.F.A, M.S.W and specialist in education (Ed. S).

Accredited Online College Degrees

These are online college degrees from an accredited online education provider that ensures that a student is earning an actual degree

Want to Learn More About US Higher Education System?

Grading Scale in the US

Grading in the USA are usually letter grades, i.e. A+, A, A−; B+, B, B−; C+, C, C−; D+, D, D−; F; with A+ being the highest and F being the lowest. However, the grading system may vary from one university to another and between system, disciplines or status. Given below is the grading scale followed by US higher education institutions: 

Letter Grade


GPA on a 4.0 Scale



4.33 or 4.00





































List of US Higher Education Organisations

In the US, higher education-related organisations can be broadly divided into the following:

  • Accreditation Agencies

  • Ministry of Higher Education

  • Rectors' Conferences or Councils

  • University Associations

  • Qualification Authorities

  • Other higher education-related organizations may be local, regional, national or international.

568 Presidents Group

AACSB International

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications

Alabama Commission on Higher Education

Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences

American Association of State Colleges and Universities

American Association of University Professors

American Association of University Women

American Bar Association, Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

American Council for Construction Education

Arkansas Department of Higher Education

Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

Association of American Universities

Association of Governing Boards

Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors

Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, California

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration

Five College Consortium

Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Higher Learning Commission

International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

National Education Association

Note: This list is not exhaustive

Study Cost in the USA

Studying in a foreign country like the US can be an expensive affair. Therefore, you must calculate your living cost and accomodation cost along with your cost of studying in the US. 

Tuition Fees

Accommodation Cost

Living Expenses

Visa Fee

$8,000 to $55,000 a year $9,800 - $12,000 per year $10,000 - $25,000 per academic year

SEVIS fee depending on the type of the visa  +

$160 visa application fee

Note: The figures given here are indicative.

Best Places to Study in the USA

Home to some top-ranked global universities, Boston is undoubtedly the number one student city in the US. Other popular student cities in the country include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Based on six indicators including student mix, employer activity, affordability, university rankings and affordability and student view, here is the list of top 10 student cities in the US, featured in the QS Student Cities Ranking 2019:

Ranking in the USA

QS World Ranking

Student City in the USA






New York



Los Angeles



San Francisco












Washington DC






San Diego

Health and Support Services for International Students in the US

While the US healthcare system is one of the best in the world, it can be difficult to understand at times as the country does not have a socialised healthcare system. Knowing the health services in the US along with the local healthcare system beforehand would help an international student save their time and money. 

Healthcare on US University Campus

According to data estimated in 1988, 80% of America’s 14 million students depended on primary health care provided through campus health programs. US college health-service offer low-cost, primary medical care to students on campus. These college health centres provide care for acute illnesses and injuries as well as for continued and chronic illnesses.

Overall, almost all US colleges and universities provide some type of general medical care including basic first-aid, treatment of minor ailments, centres for x-rays, prescription drugs, lab tests and access to specialists.

Off-Campus Healthcare in the US

Much like domestic students, international students are also open to access healthcare outside of the campus. They can visit a medical practitioner off-campus, cost of which may go slightly higher than on-campus health services. Private doctors in the US cater to non-emergency patients through appointments during regular office hours - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

For serious emergencies or need to get a life-threatening ailment treated, an international student can call an ambulance and go to the nearest hospital’s emergency room. This is usually the most expensive health care service, like in most countries.

Health Insurance for International students in the US

For F-1 visa holders, the US government does not mandate the requirement of health insurance. However, having adequate health insurance is considered extremely important.

A lot of colleges and universities in the US offer their own health insurance plans for their students. Studies say that larger US schools have better health insurance plans for international students than smaller institutions. Getting a school-based health insurance plan for non-US students is usually mandatory although it may vary depending upon the school. 

Students sponsored by one of Fullbright’s programs or United States Agency for International Development (USAID) may be offered their own health insurance plans. If that’s not the case, a university’s International Student Office will be available for help regarding the same. 

International students can also look for better health insurance plans specially designed for them, as offered by private organisations. While selecting a plan, one must be mindful of factors such as the premium, deductibles, co-insurance, coverage and more. 

Support for International Students with Disabilities

According to US law, universities and colleges in the country are required to guarantee equal access and reasonable facilities and provisions for all attending students including those with disabilities. 

Having said that, an international student with a disability should have a clear idea of what services are available at the host institution along with the local community where they will be living. Most often, students with disabilities find a local disability organisation that provides them with specific information about health services, accommodation, accessible transport, friendly restaurants and more. 

Usually US institutions have a disability office to support special needs such as extra time allocations on exams, note-taking services, life skills training, a social network and so on. It is advised that students communicate their requirements while applying to the university.

Pre-arrival Support

A lot of US universities give a welcome pack or guide specifically made for international students. The same includes accommodation options, arranging medical insurance, visa requirements, living expenses budgeting, part-time work, campus facilities, online resources, tuition fee payment among other things. 

Keeping in mind the myriad things that involve studying abroad, a growing number of universities in the US have started introducing mentoring programs upon arrival. This often helps the new students interact with current students, be it through email or face-to-face. 

USA On-Campus Student Life, Athletics & Extra-Curricular Activities

The United States is often called the world in one country with people from all over the world adding to the country’s multicultural environment. Student life in the US is a completely different experience primarily due to the independence and adventure US universities have to offer.

On campus, international students usually live in dormitories or residence halls that may be distinguished on the basis of year of study, language, theme-focused housing or more. The usual way of living is sharing rooms which undoubtedly is one of the easiest ways to make friends and adjust to a whole new world.

Many college towns in the States have an amazing nightlife that add to the fun on weekends. In addition, the US is also popular for live events, festivals and other activities happening across campuses. Opportunities like these make campus life in the US one-of-a-kind experience.

Unlike other countries, the US sees a lot of students engaging in on-campus activities and clubs after classes, of which sports and athletics are a huge part. Whether you are an international or a domestic student, joining college sports is not only a way to enjoy and boost your health but to also be actively involved on campus.

US universities also have clubs and organisations looking to welcome new students or volunteers interested in a myriad of extracurricular activities such as theatre, dance, volunteer work, community service, the Student newspaper, debate team and many more. Academic clubs are the most popular student organisations which may include clubs for engineering, aeronautics, English, entrepreneurship, psychology, etc. No matter what your interests are, US universities offer extracurricular opportunities in nearly any and every field.


Q. Can I transfer to a US university from a university outside of the US?

A. Yes, it is possible to transfer from an Indian university to a US university, as well as between US universities. While doing so, you will not lose any of your previous academic credit as the US has a flexible credit system. You must, however, meet certain conditions, as mentioned by the selected university. The recommended timeline for students who wish to transfer to a US institution is similar to that of a prospective first-year student. You must start your application process at least 12 months before the date you want to enrol in the university. 

Q. How can I find out if a US institution is accredited?

A. While selecting a university to enrol in, finding out if the university is accredited is extremely important. What accredited means is that the US university is officially authorized or approved by recognised organisations. Unlike other countries, in the US, universities are not accredited by the US federal government and rather by a middle layer of organizations and associations like Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. All the valid accreditation agencies in the US are recognised by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The country also has national accrediting agencies that specialise in specific programs within schools or universities.

Q. How Will I Be Graded in the US?

A. Students in the US are given grades based on their overall performance in a given academic year. A Grade Point Average is calculated from the grades you earn while studying at a US university, which is one a scale of 4.0. Grades in the country are determined by papers, class participation, class attendance, final exams, quizzes, projects and midterms. 

Q. Can I study in the US after 12th?

A. Indian students who have passed 10+2 from a recognised board of education can certainly apply for undergraduate courses in the US. US universities usually require Bachelor’s degree applicants to have completed class 12th examination with at least 50% marks in aggregate. Students may also have the standardised tests of ACT or SAT although thousands of US colleges and universities have gone test-optional, test-flexible or test-blind. In addition, international students will have to meet the English language proficiency requirements and take one of the accepted tests including TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo English Test or PTE Academic. Apart from academic requirements, international students will have to apply for a US student visa, education loans, and/or scholarships (if required).

Q. Which English language tests are accepted by US institutions? 

A. Every international student from a non-English speaking country will have to take an applicable English language proficiency test to prove their English proficiency. The most popular English language tests accepted by universities in the US include the IELTS, TOEFL and PTE Academic. However, with the closure of test centres amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of US institutions have started accepting Duolingo English test scores.

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